Selected by Nobel Laureate Louise Glück as Winner of the Changes Book Prize
Selected by Nobel Laureate Louise Glück as Winner of the inaugural Changes Book Prize, Rachel Mannheimer’s debut, EARTH ROOM, is a dazzling book-length narrative poem that explores with tenderness how art and love intersect to make one’s life. Transporting the reader across decades and from the Moon to Mars by way of Alaska, Berlin, and the Hudson Valley, EARTH ROOM considers a lineage of sculpture, performance, and land art—from Robert Smithson to Pina Bausch—with observations shaped by gender and environment, history and portents of apocalypse. With an urgent, direct, and unmistakably powerful voice, Mannheimer tests the line between nature and culture, ordinary life and performance. A work of sly wit and bracing sincerity, EARTH ROOM is an original, unsparing book that Louise Glück calls “a lesson in how to make something of where we find ourselves.”
“How many voices can sustain an entire book length poem? I think of Claudia Rankine and Maggie Nelson. And here, Mannheimer, as she thinks aloud on the page with her supple, discerning intelligence. This is that rare work that is both profoundly alert to its historical moment and also, in the questions it entertains and the magnitude of its intent, timeless.” — LOUISE GLÜCK, author of Faithful and Virtuous Night
“Multiple readings of Rachel Mannheimer’s thoroughly fresh debut reward and fascinate like multiple visits to Walter De Maria’s eponymous “Earth Room” installation. This book is a charismatic travelogue for our interior and exterior landscapes; it’s a conceptual art catalog with a poet’s notes written in the margins; it’s a one-act play of engrossing verbal theater. The stupendous EARTH ROOM makes language a place. It’s roomy, it’s personal, it’s every day.” — TERRANCE HAYES, author of American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin
“To describe Rachel Mannheimer’s elegiac EARTH ROOM, I need to borrow the words an astronaut used to convey his first impression of the moon: ‘magnificent desolation.’ This is an intimate, understated, lunar-lit work of earthen dispossession in which Mannheimer—in community, in grief, in love, and in solitude—acknowledges the very fine eroding line between art and life, and dares not only to cross it, but to do so with abandon. There is nowhere in this vertiginous work, as it takes us to memorials, galleries, performances, parks, guestrooms, seascapes, and cemeteries, in which the scale of human atrocity is not palpably encountered in ‘direct, tactile intimacy.’ EARTH ROOM is a wholly original confessional-ekphrastic undertaking that brings artifice and reality so close they speak with a single crystalline voice—Mannheimer’s. This is an extraordinary book.” — ROBYN SCHIFF, author of A Woman of Property
Review at LA Review of BooksAuthor Interview at McSweeney'sAuthor Interview at Poets & WritersReview at The Paris ReviewReview at Harvard Review OnlineReview at New England ReviewReview at Cleveland Review of BooksReview at The Boston GlobeReview at One The SeawallAuthor Site
RACHEL MANNHEIMER was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, and lives in New York City, where she works as a literary scout and as a senior editor for The Yale Review. EARTH ROOM is her first book.